Posted: 07 January 2005 at 7:53pm | IP Logged
Biggest-ever explosion in universe detected
Mass Equivalent To 300 Suns Sucked Into Black Hole
By Chidanand Rajghatta TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Astronomers have discovered the most powerful eruption of energy yet
observed in the universe. The event, detected by the Chandra X-ray
observatory operated by NASA, has been generated by a supermassive
black hole. It has been going on for 100 million years and has been
devouring vast amounts of material—the equivalent of 300 million
suns—from its neighbourhood.
Describing the event, NASA
scientists said the explosion was caused by a gravitational energy
release during which huge amounts of matter fell
towards a black hole. Most of the matter was swallowed, but some of it
was violently ejected. They are not sure where such enormous amounts of
matter came from. One possibility is a host galaxy cooled
catastrophically and was swallowed by the black hole. Another is that
another black hole fell into an existing black hole.
The huge eruption was seen in a Chandra image of the hot, X-ray emitting gas of a galaxy cluster called
MS 0735.6+7421 released by NASA. Two vast cavities extend away from the
super massive black hole in the cluster's central galaxy. The cavities
are so large—about 650,000 light years across—that they indicate the
power of the eruption.
NASA said in a statement that Chandra
has discovered evidence of similar outbursts in the form of other X-ray
cavities in galaxy clusters, but the cavities in MS 0735 "are easily
the largest and most powerful seen to
date''. To create such an enormous eruption, the supermassive black
hole must have swallowed about 300 million solar masses of gas in the
last hundred million years, the space agency suggested.
stunned to find that a mass of about 300 million suns was swallowed,''
Brian McNamara of Ohio University, lead author of the study about the
discovery reported in Nature magazine, said.
How big is it?
This big bang has been going on for 100 million years. It's the most powerful explosion we know of
How did it happen?
A hot galaxy cooled catastrophically and was swallowed by the black hole or another black hole fell into this black hole
Large amounts of gas swirled to centre of black hole, generating intense electromagnetic fields that ejected strong gas jets
An artist's impression of the Big Bang, courtesy NASA